We have a right to our own happiness, and a duty to promote the happiness of those round us. Whatever religion is congruent with this right and duty has a claim to be true.
Is There a God?
One of my readers has asked whether I believe in God and whether I regard myself as a Christian. This is a highly personal question, and I might feel at liberty not to reply. However, since my novels all deal in various ways with religious matters, I feel I have lost the right to silence. So the short answer to both parts of the question is yes. This being said, I pass to what may be seen as the less than satisfactory details.
When I look at the world, I see what appears to be great complexity in its structure and great regularity in its motions. There are others, I have no doubt, but I can think of three main hypotheses for why this should be so.
First, nothing exists but atoms moving at random through a void. They have always existed and always will exist. Given enough time, there is no reason why these random movements should not result in collisions and the growth of large clusters of atoms. These may form complex structures that move with each other in an appearance of regularity. Our minds are as much a part of this random process as a speck of dust that floats between two galaxies. Perhaps this will all dissolve again before I have finished this article. Perhaps it will continue for millions of death after the atoms of my own mind and body have separated and rejoined into other structures. I do not know.
Second, there is a Supreme Being who created the universe and populated one or more parts of it with sentient beings, all with some ability to perceive their origin.
Third, I am God, and, for reasons I cannot presently explain, have created at least the appearance of a universe that may continue to exist even when I am not looking at it.
Each of these hypotheses is a full if different explanation of everything that is perceived. None implies a contradiction, and so is equally possible. I am not aware of any external criterion for judging one over the other. None can be proved or disproved. I could suspend judgement and get on with the rest of my life. Instead, I choose to believe the second, that there is a God. You are welcome to choose otherwise.
Now, belief in a Supreme Being is one thing. Belief in a specific revelation is another. Did God speak to Moses on Mount Sinai? Did he send his only son to redeem us of our sins? Did he send a final prophet to clear up such misunderstandings as may have attended earlier efforts to enlighten us? Is Christ made or begotten? Has he one nature or two? Has he one will or two? Is the whole of revelation confined to a single text? Or is it supplemented by several thousand years of tradition? I have no idea, and see no value in trying to form one.
All I will say is that God may be like the Internet. Some of us access it with a Windows-Intel computer, others with an Android telephone. There are many other means of access. Once there, we have the same choice of data. All that really counts is bandwidth and stability of the connection. So it may be with God.
Or perhaps there is some standard of judgement between religions. Bearing in mind that God has gone to the trouble of creating us as social beings, and bearing in mind that, if there are natural differences between every individual, there is no evidence of supernatural differences, and bearing in mind that we all have a propensity for preferring happiness to unhappiness, it seems reasonable that our conduct while we are alive is watched, and that there is some reckoning once we are dead. This being so, it may be that we are expected to avoid making others unhappy, which entails a general respect for their autonomy. This being so, things like human sacrifice, inquisitions, systematic indifference to the well-being of other groups, and suicide bombing, all indicate a misunderstanding of the divine mind.
Therefore, I am a broad church Anglican. This is the historic religion of my country. It is part of a web of customs and institutions that I find comforting and that I believe do conform to the mind of God. It is a faith that does not spread or maintain itself by persecution, and it has sustained the English liberal tradition.
But this is not to state any doctrine of exclusive salvation. In other circumstances, I might easily be a humanist Catholic, or a liberal Jew, or a Sufi Moslem. We have a right to our own happiness, and a duty to promote the happiness of those round us. Whatever religion is congruent with this right and duty has a claim to be true.
Such, for what it may be worth, is the faith of Richard Blake.